Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Amanda Jensen, a blogger of finances and professional development. After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in business management and working for several years as an administrative assistant, Amanda now creates content with AAMI.
For an overwhelming majority of college graduates, reaching your academic goals and getting that degree can be something of a let-down. Depending on your major and other qualifications, you might find that finding employment with your freshly printed diploma can be difficult and even discouraging. However, much of this trouble can be allayed with some awareness about some of the more common mistakes that recent graduates make during the job application process.
Settling to pay the bills
Unfortunately, one of the worst mistakes that many college applicants make is settling with a less-than-ideal position straight out of college to begin picking up their financial responsibilities. After all, searching for the right job is a process that can take weeks to months of hard sleuthing - and every day that passes is another day closer to dealing with the financial burden of student loans. In fact, according to an article by the Huffington Post, about half of recent graduates settle for jobs that don't even require college degrees.
But why does this impact your ability to find a job suited to your major and professional aspirations?
This is because it creates a perceived gap in your resume. While taking a job when you're in dire financial straits can be a responsible decision, it also creates an extended period of time in which you're not engaged in the discipline that you're trained for. All but the most inexperienced applicants tend to not include irrelevant, low-qualifying work in their resumes. However, there is a solution to this quandary.
Stay in the game
If you're unable to find a job within your desired profession straight out of college within an acceptable amount of time (which generally looks better on your resume later), you can still participate in your field without necessarily making decent money from it in the short-term. Search for internships, even if they only give you a few hours per week. Engage in freelance work, especially if you're looking for a career as a writer or an artist. Find community projects to participate in related to your field.
While you may not be engaging in a traditional nine to five job, this still demonstrates your ambition and dedication to the field while developing your professional network. And if anything, it ties up any gaps that might appear on your resume.
Find your stepping stones
No employer wants to be considered a stepping stone for the continued success of their employees in greener pastures. You might not use the phrase in an interview with a hiring manager, but this is a viable way of looking at less qualified work in higher need fields. In more technical professions, hirers often see fresh college graduates as liabilities and flakes, lacking in experience and enthusiasm.
Finding employment in relevant fields, no matter the rank and pay, demonstrates your motivation to work in the discipline far more convincingly than something to simply pay the bills. For example, working in a nursing home is a relevant resume-worthy pursuit for nursing graduates unable to find work at hospitals. Teachers who are willing to travel and substitute at various schools while waiting for a full-time position are in a far greater light than those who resign to work in retail or customer service until something opens.
There's no doubt that a slump of unemployment after graduating college can be upsetting and discouraging. But persevering with volunteerism and lower qualified positions in your field is a far better way of taking the job search once prospects in your ideal field have either dried up or have passed on your application. This dedication to your field is what will make you the more experienced, dedicated applicant when the next round of hiring begins.